“The world is going to hell in a handbasket,” your grandparents might have said back in the day, and now you might very well find yourself wondering just how prophetic a notion that was. We see it every day in the headlines – another person has snapped and gone on a killing spree, terrorists have carried out yet another attack, someone in a position of power has committed heartless atrocities. Sometimes, it all feels like a different version of the same story, and it has reached a point where many are questioning just how far all of this will go and where it will ultimately lead.
In a recent piece for The Mind Unleashed that was reprinted by the Waking Times, philosopher and former Navy Intelligence Specialist Gary ‘Z’ McGee explores the role that dissent plays in the current state of global affairs. Rebelling against atrocities is a natural human impulse, he says, and it’s hard to argue with that sentiment. When we hear about something that outrages us, it’s hard not to react in some way. Some of us might utter some angry words, while others are inspired into some sort of action – peaceful or otherwise. In those of us who don’t act, the feelings can build up and overwhelm us.
Unfortunately, most people have been raised in violent societies, and using violence is therefore a knee-jerk response that only has the effect of perpetuating even more violence. Sometimes violence can mar what is otherwise a noble cause. As McGee points out, if you need to resort to violence to get others to follow your cause, it is fundamentally immoral and flawed.
How can people express their dissent in order to exact positive change without resorting to violence? McGee defines a “true rebel” with some inspiration from Albert Camus. A true rebel, he says is not rebelling merely to rebel or as an excuse to be violent. Instead, they seek healthy environments and rebel against the obstacles that stand in the way of said healthy environments.
He writes: “When our rebellion is life-affirming, freedom-affirming, and based on nonviolence, it is healthy (heroic). When our rebellion is life-denying, freedom-denying, and based on violence, it is unhealthy (tyrannical). The hero is free, and uses that freedom with the soul intent to free others. The tyrant (or would be tyrant) is also free, but uses that freedom with the soul intent to rule others.”
When we seek to free other people through our freedom, he says, we can escape tyranny, and so we must dedicate ourselves to liberty, health and life in the face of a violent culture. Some people feel that one person can’t make a difference, that there is nothing they can do about anything that is going on, and that is precisely why oppression continues. We must take care of ourselves, arm ourselves with knowledge, use our voices – particularly those of us who enjoy freedom of expression and freedom of speech – to move society forward on a more positive path.
Otherwise, our violent society is on a road to self-destruction, the highway to hell. Just as we are destroying ourselves at the individual level – through poor choices like eating unhealthy foods and being physically inactive – we are destroying ourselves as a society through collective inaction.